Thursday, September 23, 2004I can see why you want to live here
My 16 year old sister lives in a tree house. It's not something many people can say, but Abstractboy is quite proud of this fact. On a recent visit back to Edinburgh, Abstractboy went to visit his sister in her new habitat. While most 16 year olds are drinking in play parks and spreading rumours about eachother in the playground, she lives in a self-made tree house in Bilston woods on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The local council plans to build a bypass through this ancient wood, cutting the green belt around Edinburgh even finer. And because there are severe environmental repercussions from building the said bypass, Nat and over 25 other activists have occupied the woods, living in trees, eating food wastefully put in the skips of nearby Sainsbury's superstore and preventing the woods from being demolished, saving the animals living there.
At first I was sceptical. Shouldn't a 16 year old be in school? Shouldn't she aspire to get in to a good university like me? But when I visited her and saw how at ease she was and how happy she was in these surroundings it made me realise fully how dangerous it is to force all young adults through the same conventional education system. While she is an intensely intelligent individual (top marks in standard grades, despite dropping out of school three months before the exams), the school system was not for her. Whilst at school she was a lot darker and troubled, whereas now she is as free as the trees and the leaves and the wind, so to speak. At a time when teenage depression seems to be on the increase, it makes you wonder how much it could be prevented from having a more flexible education system that allowed for people to take time out of their schooling and try different ways of doing it. There are, of course, implications of having a more flexible education system - some people might simply just slip through the net and evade education entirely, which isn't good.
Something has to be done, however, to allow for children to have an education that suits them more than one system for everyone. I'm not really sure of anything else or have any great suggestions, but there is a clear neccesity at present to be more accomodating of children who do not fit as easily into the academic factory as others.